Category: New Releases

Seoul Station is Entertaining but Inessential

Overview: A zombie outbreak begins in Seoul, striking first at the homeless population. Next Entertainment World; 2016; 90 mins. Prequel: Though billed as a prequel to 2016’s Train to Busan, Seoul Station is its own creature. It shares a lot of DNA with its live action counterpart but both movies can exist independently of each other. It feels feels like a class of film students were given the same assignment: make a zombie movie set in Korea that says something about class. Train to Busan took the idea and made a live action movie about zombies and salary men....

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The Red Turtle: Life, Love, & Death

This review may contain spoilers.  Overview: A shipwrecked man encounters a giant red sea turtle. Wild Bunch/Lumiere/Toho; 2016; Rated PG; 80 minutes. Ghibli Factor: The Red Turtle is the first non-Japanese film from Studio Ghibli, about a man who becomes stranded on a deserted island, eventually meeting – you guessed it – a red turtle. However, it’s much more than that. Without using dialogue, the film uses expression and symbolism to (literally) paint a beautiful portrait about love, connection and perseverance as it relates to the cyclical nature of life and death. Dudok de Wit is intent to linger on how...

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Guardians is Fast-Paced to a Fault

Overview: A team of superheroes must stop a madman from destroying Moscow. Turbo Films; 2017; Not Rated; 100 minutes. And Then: There’s a popular video on YouTube in which Trey Parker and Matt Stone of South Park fame crash a writing class at NYU. Their main script writing advice is that between each scene you should be able to put the words BUT or THEREFORE. Otherwise, you might as well just write AND THEN. Guardians is very much an AND THEN movie. Guardians is the story of a Cold War project known as Patriot that sought to create superhumans. When the...

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The Dunning Man is a Rambling, but Charming, Atlantic City Day Trip

Overview: An increasingly harried landlord desperately tries to collect the rent from his possibly villainous, possibly insane tenants. Dedalus Films; 2017; Not Rated; 91 minutes. Eisenstein Wept: Oh, how the old Soviet masters must be spinning in their graves. For with Michael Clayton’s The Dunning Man we have a film where a landlord isn’t just the protagonist but the valorous hero in a story that’s essentially just him trying to collect late rent payments from his tenants. What’s worse: we cheer for him the whole time. I guess it’s all a matter of perspective. The landlord, Connor Ryan (James...

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Wonder Woman Is A Better Movie Than The World Deserves

Overview: Diana, warrior and Princess of the Amazons, leaves her homeland when an American pilot, Steve Trevor, crashes on Themyscira and tells her of a great war. In her quest to bring peace to the world, she discovers the scope of her powers and the truth behind who she really is. Warner Bros. Pictures; 2017; Rated PG-13; 141 minutes. Wonder: It was the first scene in Themyscira in which we see Amazon warriors Antiope (the ever-perfect Robin Wright) and Philippus (Ann Ogbomo) in battle training that I realized something was off. The hype surrounding Wonder Woman, skepticism over its...

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Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie is as Sincere as it is Witty

Overview: Best friends George and Harold accidentally brainwash their grumpy school principal into believing he is one of their own creations come to life. 20th Century Fox; 2017; Rated PG; 89 minutes. Tra-la-la!: Based off a series of books of the same title, Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie is just as clever as it is funny. It doesn’t contain the meme-worthy escapades of The Boss Baby but how Captain Underpants functions as a whole is far more impressive than its title would have you assume. If The Boss Baby was a modern Hannah Barbara cartoon with plastique sheen,...

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War Machine’s Satire Is Off Target

Overview: War Machine examines the rise and fall of military commander General Glen McMahon and his struggles in Afghanistan. Netflix; 2017; Rated R; 121 minutes. War Stories: It seems that we will never have a dearth of war stories on film, and our times are no different. Just this year, Netflix has released two such movies, both set in Afghanistan. War Machine certainly has the star power of a major release, featuring names like Brad Pitt and Ben Kingsley. Also buoying expectations is the previous work of director David Michod, namely The Rover and Animal Kingdom. Taking on a dark...

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Dead Men Tell No Tales Struggles to Put to Rest a Once-Great Franchise

Overview: Jack Sparrow confronts a ghost from his past that seeks revenge. Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures; 2017; Rated PG-13; 129 minutes. Don’t Forget Your Old Shipmate: Led by Gore Verbinski’s vision, the first three Pirates of the Caribbean movies were marked by entertaining adventure sprinkled with well-integrated magic and inventive, ambitious visuals. The films explored piracy as a rejection of social expectations and moral simplicity, through eccentric and fascinating characters. After a disappointing fourth installment, the franchise seeks real closure in its fifth and final chapter. The way in which directors Joachin Rønning and Espen Sandberg and writer...

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Baywatch Is Afraid to Step Into the Light of Its Own Comedy

Overview: A veteran lifeguard crew is disrupted by the inclusion of a disgraced Olympian just as a criminal plot is uncovered on their beach. Paramount Pictures; 2017; Rated R; 119 minutes. Just Let Me Smell What He’s Cooking: Since Donald Trump was elected, there’s been a quiet joke building about Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson being the next celebrity president. It’s a fun fantasy, one I’ve indulged in conversation with friends and loved ones no less than a dozen times since last November. And everyone speaks about the hypothetical in the same tone, with the same smirk. But there’s more...

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Blame! Is a Bold Step Forward for Netflix

Overview: When threatened by the robots of a murderous, sentient supercity, a group of post-apocalyptic survivors are aided by a lone wanderer hiding a terrible secret. Netflix; 2017; Not Rated; 106 minutes. Brevity is the Soul of Decent Adaptations: As any anime expert will tell you, it’s never a good idea to try and condense a multi-volume manga series into a single feature-length film. Take Katsuhiro Otomo’s Akira. The film is unquestionably a watershed moment in anime history, completely revitalizing not just the cyberpunk genre, but anime’s reputation as a serious art form outside Japan. Yet in their attempt...

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96 Souls Has 0 Identities

Overview: After gaining the power to see smells following a lab accident, a professor fights to keep his discovery out of the wrong hands. Gravitas Ventures; 2017; Not Rated; 112 minutes. Premiering Tonight at 8/7 Central: Stanley Jacobs’ 96 Souls missed its true calling as an entertaining yet slightly campy kid’s movie. It features the kind of set-up seemingly ripped straight from Nickelodeon or Disney Channel original movies from the late ’90s to the early ’00s: following a lab accident, professor Jack Sutree (Grinnell Morris) accidentally gains the ability to see smells. Eventually his super-sight increases in power to the...

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‘David Lynch: The Art Life’ is Soul Food for the Artist

Originally published on April 10. Overview: The Art Life gives a glimpse into the artwork and early life of artist and filmmaker David Lynch. Janus Films; 2016; Not Rated; 90 minutes. The Mystery: Historically, David Lynch has let his work speak for itself. He has little interest in explaining symbolism and meaning and remains a somewhat private man. In David Lynch: The Art Life, directors Jon Nguyen and Rick Barnes capture a humble shot of him from an angle previously unseen, a look into Lynch’s young life and his artistic process. Seasoned people-watchers rejoice, we are spoiled with shots of...

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‘Side A Side B’ Explores a Collapsing Relationship Through Music

Overview: A young Indian couple work out the frayed ends of their deteriorating relationship while on a 44 hour train ride in this unconventional indie musical. 2017; Not Rated; 78 minutes. Lemonade or Chai?: In Sudhish Kamath’s Side A Side B we see a curious variation of the recent movement in African-American culture to blur the line between music, music videos, and cinema. Although Michael Jackson may have popularized this blurring through extended music videos with self-contained stories which transitioned in and out of choreographed song-and-dance segments, this nascent art form reached a recent apex with Beyoncé’s 2016 “visual...

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‘Mommy Dead and Dearest’: Confounding, Troubling, and Yes, You Should Watch

Overview: Gypsy Blancharde was a lifelong victim of her mother Deedee’s Munchausen by proxy syndrome, until she and a boyfriend decided to take matters into their own hands. HBO; 2017; Not Rated; 82 minutes. Both Kinds, Southern and Gothic: When I was a kid, I had a friend whose parents were, uh, free-spirited. I loved spending time at their house, feeling liberated by the lack of rules and parental concern. It was fun, until it wasn’t. Usually the “until” was her parents drunkenly fighting, though memorably it was once her dad speeding down the highway while we lie, bracing...

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‘Alien: Covenant’ Brings Death to Life

Overview: The crew of the Covenant, a colonist ship bound for a distant planet, intercepts a message that leads them to an uncharted planet and home to a familiar threat. 20th Century Fox; 2017; Rated R; 124 minutes. Covenant: There are two essential films to watch before seeing Alien: Covenant. One is the 2012 film Prometheus and the other is the 1979 film Alien. One is a predecessor to Covenant and the other is what Covenant’s story is supposedly leading up to. Both are directed by Ridley Scott. While there are other Alien films, these are the two to...

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